It’s no secret that Lucas has had his challenges from a very young age. He didn’t hit all the monthly milestones. He couldn’t walk or talk until he was two. He visited almost every specialist NC has to offer before the age of three. There isn’t a time when Lucas hasn’t been “different”.
On our way to school this morning, the reality of his differences punched me right in the gut. He has a special friend who “gets” him that hasn’t been at school the past few days. I asked him if he has other friends to play with and his response was what I feared. “My friends tell me l can’t play with them because I’m different”.
I held back the tears to remind my precious son that being different is a good thing. I reminded him how amazing and beautiful and loving he is. And most importantly, l reminded him to be kind to others, even if kindness isn’t being shown to him.
There’s a lot of things that make Lucas different. There’s a lot of things he may never see or do. But the thing l love most about his differences, is his ability to overcome those differences and light up every room he enters in the process.
Keep being YOU, my baby boy. You’re the most imperfectly perfect human l know!
Author: Brittany: Lucas’s mom and my granddaughter
Pictures of our sweet boy, and a few of our family members. Life just wouldn’t be the same without Lucas! Click on any image to enlarge and begin the slideshow
PROVERBS 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Facebook post by Nicci Staton, my granddaughter-in-law
This morning at school drop off I gave Gideon his daily affirmation:
“Gideon, you are a man of God, you are strong, you are brave, you are mighty. You are loving and kind, generous, and a truth seeker. You are a mighty man of valor. You are holy, and you are a giver of God’s love.”
Gideon: “yup! I concur with that.”
If only we could all walk in the confidence of an eight-year-old!
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).
I overheard mom telling my dad that the doctor they were taking me to said my spirit is broken. I was seven. He also said I had too much religion. The doctor was a shrink.
A shrink! My parents actually believed that their seven-year-old needed to see a shrink!
It’s true, I was overly sensitive and emotional with a so-called learning disability and social disorder. And yes, I pitched a conniption fit every time mom washed my hair and combed out the tangles every morning. And compared to my calmer, less spirited siblings, I was like a wild Mustang.
But a broken spirit? What did that even mean?
As a kid, it meant nothing to me. I was just a kid doing what kids do: being a kid.
However, when I got older and more aware of the dysfunctional world in which I lived, I realized that yes, I was broken.
A broken spirit is fearful and discouraged and depressed and blames all the world’s ales on themselves. A broken spirit second-guesses every choice they make and feels guilty for being true to themselves. A broken spirit is a dead soul walking down a treacherous, dark and, lonely path.
A broken spirit sends you crying to the altar Sunday after Sunday, praying for forgiveness from the wretchedness you feel inside. I was seventeen that Sunday morning when my mother stood up apologizing for me, saying she didn’t know what was wrong with me, and reassuring the congregation that I was a good girl.
That Sunday, the altar of prayer and hope, and forgiveness became a place of judgment, shame, and condemnation. Where were the loving arms, the tender voice, the words of understanding and encouragement? Where was God?
Although I never went back to the altar, I never stopped searching for the truth about who I am and why I feel the way I do.
And in my endless search, I discovered that I am a free spirit, that I see things in black and white, and that living the truth is better than living a lie. And when I pulled against the reigns, the people in my world didn’t like it, especially my mother. And more than anything, I wanted to please my mother.
To make a very long and painful story short, my mother manipulated and controlled my entire life; even after I got married. She played me like a game of cards and cheated to win at any cost. And it cost me, my soul. My friends saw it long before I did and even warned me of the damage my mother was causing. But, she was my mother and would never do anything to hurt me.
But she did. Again and again, using every dirty, emotional trick up her sleeve to keep me feeling guilty and confused and angry until that anger became an uncontrollable rage. Finally, when I saw the destruction it was causing my marriage and my child, I said enough! I walked away and slammed the door shut on my mother for six long years. I went into counseling for two years, read Christian Living books, and began healing and living my life for myself.
Only when I felt emotionally strong enough did I pursue a relationship with my mother, who never understood me, never saw what she did to me, only what I did to her, and continued trying to manipulate and control me. But, I was stronger and wiser, and more determined than ever to take back my life.
No one has the right to live and control someone else’s life. Isn’t it hard enough to live and control their own? It angers me when I see moms and dad’s pushing their dreams and aspirations on their kids. Let them live their own lives, dream their own dreams. You raised them right, now give them the right to make the right choices and be there for them if they screw up. No, you won’t always like the choices they make, but you can always be there no matter what. The biggest part of loving your kids is letting them go. Let them spread their wings and fly, and keep loving them from the sidelines. If you don’t, you won’t be in their lives the way you want to be. You may not be in their lives at all.
I have one child, a son, and a pastor of twenty years. His dad and I have seen his highs and his lows. We’ve listened to his heart cries. We’ve watched him make choices that didn’t make sense to us. When he decided to travel halfway around the globe to fulfill his passion, his dangerous mission to save the world, we never stood in his way. His wife and kids never stood in his way. We watch him from the sidelines hoping and praying he comes back home safely. We love him. We trust him. We encourage him. We never try to live his life for him. He is a free spirit. His wings are big and strong, and he will continue to fly as high as he can until he can’t fly anymore.
And my heart couldn’t be more proud and happier for the man he has become.
Our kid’s hearts are in our hands. Love them. Teach them. Encourage them. Never, ever crush them, for if you do, they will flounder through life with broken wings that may never learn to fly.
Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
I’ve been a child of God all my life. He’s never let me down. He’s never been mean and cruel to me even when I deserved it. He is my hero, my Light in the dark, my everything. I talk to Him. He talks to me. I ask questions. He gives me answers. I can always depend on Him to be there for me when everyone else runs away.
But, over the past several months, my faith has been shaken to the core. The nation that I once knew is falling apart. The world is suffering. Women and children are being raped and murdered. We the people have been exchanged for lust, power and greed. We the people no longer feel safe in the arms of our government.
And like many others, I’ve cried out to God, “Why don’t you stop this horror? Why do you allow innocent children to suffer? Why? Why? Why?”
Complete silence! Not one logical answer. No answer at all.
Now, I don’t even know how to pray . . .
Stubbornly I continued reading my Bible and trying to find answers. I know what Revelation says about the end of the world. And today, it’s never felt closer. I know that terrible things are going to happen before the last trumpet sounds. And I know that what God sets into motion cannot be stopped.
But my heart was terrified! And my brain was on overload with all the why’s and why not’s. But God’s silence was more than I could bear. And worst of all, I began seeing him as an angry tyrant rather than a loving, gracious God.
Faith and hope were uprooted and the seeds of doubt were planted and growing like weeds. How can I continue to trust a God that allows sin and corruption to take over? I needed answers. I needed to know what the heck God is doing.
Finally, God tells my troubled, pondering heart to calm down and that I don’t need to know the answers; I just need to trust that He is in complete control of the world and everything in it. He reminded me that He didn’t put me on this earth to fix it; that’s His job. All I have to do is concentrate on fixing myself, repenting of my own sins, and being the best warrior for God I can be.
Our fight as Christians is with Satan and his demons, the rulers of this dark world. They feast on our fear and doubt and confusion. They twist and distort our vision of God and anything else that will drag us from our faith. Satan is sneaky. He is vile. He is a liar. He is a thief. He is the king of evil. The apostle Paul paints a vivid picture of Satan’s nasty deeds in Ephesians 6: 8-10 and the weapons we need to fight against him.
God makes it crystal clear in His Word that we must be obedient to Him. We must not lose heart. We must trust Him even when the things He does or doesn’t do make sense. My job is not to figure God out. My job is to trust and keep moving forward. In the midst of the storm and the raging waves around me, I must step out of the boat and walk on the water of faith.
I’ll be seventy-five tomorrow, August 26. I am retired. My nest is empty. My grandkids are grown, two of which are married with kids of their own. Sometimes I feel that I have nothing more to contribute to the family. But I can pray. Our young mom’s and dad’s today are faced with challenges like never before. I pray that God gives them wisdom and strength as they stand firm in their Christian faith. To guard their hearts against lust and greed and all the temptations of sin.
As each generation moves farther and farther from God, the harder it is for them to see Him let alone trust Him. Sin has been so watered down that it doesn’t even seem wrong anymore. Christians are accused of looking for and seeing demons in every nook and cranny. That we’re a bunch of religious fanatics and need to lighten up. Nothing is all that bad.
But it is. It’s that bad and worse. As for me, I choose God and everything good He has in store for my life. I pray that whatever I am faced with He’ll give me strength to endure to the end no matter what.
What God taught me over the past few weeks is to keep my eyes on Him. To walk closely by His side. To trust Him even when He doesn’t make sense to me. To step out of the boat and walk on the water of faith.
Psalms 127:3 Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.
With my granddaughter-in-law’s permission, I am posting what she shared on Facebook:
My best piece of advice to stay-at-home moms who are stressed out because you feel like you can’t get anything done . . . Put the phone down!
You will be amazed by how much you can get done when you’re not picking up your phone every five minutes to scroll. You’ll also be amazed by how much better you feel when you’re not being interrupted from scrolling by your kids who want something.
As a mom who has literally built her career on social media, this has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn. But my anxiety is so much less when I have less things distracting me.
Find a safe spot where your phone is not always right next to you. For me I like to keep it in the kitchen so I can still hear it ring but it’s not at my fingertips to be scrolled on.
With that said, back to the kitchen it goes till nap time.
So, I’m sitting quietly in a swivel chair in the lobby at the VA, feeling anxious as usual but nothing to cause the sleeping lion inside me alarm. Hubby was already in his room waiting for the colonoscopy. Neither of us wanted to be there, but since cancer invaded his colon several years ago and he only has a foot of it left, he must keep close tabs on it. Doctor’s orders. And mine.
The mall-like lobby was like a ghost town of vacant chairs except for one all the way across the room. There was no one breathing on me and I wasn’t breathing on anyone else, so I removed my mask and sat minding my own business checking my emails and texting my son.
About twenty minutes into my solitude, a young woman from out of nowhere leaned over one of the marked off couches fifty yards away, her face covered with a stark white mask, and scolds, “Ma’am. You’re required to wear a mask.”
Maybe it was due to the stress of our refrigerator conking out and having to buy a new one. Or that we had to toss a week’s worth of groceries, or had to use a cooler and be without a fridge for a week. Maybe it was due to Bella, our four-legged greyhound-mix, waking me up every thirty minutes barking. Whatever the reasons were, the sleeping lion woke up.
Lions don’t take kindly to being harassed; especially old, irritable ones with anxiety disorders. My hackles raised to the ceiling. I said it didn’t make sense why I had to wear a mask when there was no one around and I’m just sitting here waiting for my husband to come out of his procedure.
Suddenly, her sweetness melted away like cotton candy on a child’s slobbering tongue and scorned, “Either you wear the mask or you will be escorted from the building!”
All right all right, I snorted to myself. I’ll put on the stupid mask! But when she strutted out of sight down the long corridor, her heels kicking up enough dust to choke an elephant, the mask magically came to life and jumped back on my lap.
A whole ten minutes later, she came back more huffy than when she strutted off and even had the audacity to threaten me with calling security.
That did it! The lion jumps on all fours ready to pounce! Who does she think she is telling a woman three times her age what to do? Determined to win the battle of the wills, the lion, roared, “Go ahead! call the whole army! I don’t care!”
I nearly felt sorry for her, struggling to keep her balance in her patent leather stilettos as she stormed off. Great! Now a platoon of security guards is coming to put me in a straight jacket and haul my sassy butt to jail.
I grabbed my pocketbook and hustled to the lady’s room; a room colder than Alaska with one toilet, a sink, and a lock on the door. Good! She can’t come in here and drag me out by the hair and in front of a firing squad.
Well, you did it again, I scolded myself. Just when you think you’re getting better, you’re not. Now, look at the mess you got me in! Do you know how foolish you look? When will you ever learn to keep your mouth shut and just do as you’re told?
On and on the battle between me, myself, and I went. Finally, I told us all to shut up! People are going to think I died in here!
Taking a deep breath, I unlocked the door, praying no one was standing there waiting with handcuffs. Good! The coast is clear, I can breathe now. Now, put on the mask, find a place to sit, and behave yourself! I want to get through this day in one piece!
So I tip-toed to a quiet place and sat by myself and waited, hoping no one will recognize this crazy person behind the mask; we all look crazy behind the mask.
About fifteen minutes later, a stocky, ruddy-faced security guard invaded my quiet space and planted himself six feet in front of me. At least he was practicing social distancing, or I might have been tempted to report him.
Like a stone-faced guerrilla, he stared down at me, his navy blues and stripes and badges and patriotic mask as intimating as a gun to my head.
Still trembling and my heart pounding like a sledgehammer, I glared up at him, ready and willing to defend my rights, which I did . . . Without getting thrown in jail.
Hubby came through his colonoscopy. The inner lion went back to sleep and the three of us made it out of there alive!
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
The first time I heard Tammy Wynette sing, “Stand by Your Man,” I wanted to smash the radio.
My marriage had just ended. He was mean and abusive. I was a strong-willed wildcat. He stayed out all night drinking with his buddies. I paced the floors while our three-month-old slept. He told me I was no good. I believed him and cried. A lot. He threatened to leave again and again. I didn’t care anymore. While he was at work, I packed his bags, set them outside the door, and changed the locks. When he came home, his key didn’t work, so he busted through the door. The wildcat in me hissed and growled for him to leave. He kissed his son and left. End of story.
So, the lyrics of Tammy’s number one country hit raised my hackles sky-high. What woman in her right mind is going to stand by her man when he treats her worse than the neighbor’s dog? What woman is going to spit-shine her man’s shoes, wash and iron his lipstick-stained shirts, singing “Oh Happy Day” after he stayed out all night just being a man? And what woman is going to forgive and forget over and over and over again till death do us part?
Not this woman!
If my man wants me to love and trust and respect him plus fulfill his every desire, then he better give me plenty of good reasons. Love and commitment is a two-way street. At least that’s what I thought I heard when we exchanged our wedding vows.
I tell people that it took a real man to love me. And that man is the man I’ve been married to for the past forty-nine years. With his stubborn love, he tore down the barbed wire fence tangled around my bleeding, unbelieving heart. With his patience, he broke through the fortress of fear and distrust. With his integrity, he pried my eyes open and helped me to see that his love for me is as real as the sky above. He adopted my son and raised him as his own. He taught him how to become a real man. And finally, because of his unconditional love for me, I surrender my heart and soul to him. Even through the ups and downs, he keeps loving me with a Christ-like love. He doesn’t always like the strong-willed wildcat in me, but he’s the only man on God’s green earth who could ever make it purr.
He’s a real man.
A real man protects his woman, fights for his woman, loves and encourages and respects his woman. A real man never ever beats his woman into submission or forces his will on her because he’s bigger and stronger. Only weak, insecure little boys in a man’s body does that to a woman.
It angers me when I hear of preachers expecting women to stay with their man no matter what. That she should be the stronger Christian because after all, her man is just a man. Baloney! Preachers that preach that lie need to go back and read the rest of the scripture where the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”
It also angers me when a woman allows a man to beat her. And The more she allows it the harder it becomes to take back the power she fearfully gave away. And the beatings go on and on and on till someone ends up dead.
Yes, I’m a fighter for people’s rights, and especially for women’s rights. We’ve been through hell and high water to be recognized as human beings with brains as well as arms and legs and other stuff to allow any man to kick us around. So yes, I take offense when my kindred sisters are being abused and if I’m anywhere near, I will unleash the wildcat in me and it won’t be pretty!
It was December 25, 1963; the weirdest, most disturbing Christmas day ever. Rather than jolly St. Nick coming down the chimney, the Grinch came down instead. There were no stockings for him to steal or presents or even a tree. Yet, he stole something from me that Christmas morning. He stole the magic, the awe, and wonder, the anticipation of a rosy-cheeked, wide-eyed child that couldn’t wait for Christmas to get here. He even turned the weather upside down raising the temperature from below freezing to seventy degrees . . . very strange weather for Delaware in December.
Mom went on strike that year. She stopped doing all the mom things like cooking and cleaning and laundry. She crawled into a make-shift bedroom in the attic and lived there for weeks, only coming down to empty the slop jar and re-stock her food and water supply.
I was seventeen, old enough to fend for myself. But, like the rest of the family, I depended on mom to always be there. To always cook our favorite meals. To always keep us in line. To always be a mom.
It wasn’t the first time the Grinch snuck into our house and stole from the family. He never seemed to get his fill of tormenting us with mom’s mental illness. Her brokenness. Her inability to handle the stress of my dad’s lack of communication, and getting a real job, and bill collectors pounding on the door, and my youngest brother getting into trouble with every blink of an eye.
She tried to be strong in spite of her illness. But, she was just a mere child herself when her mother placed her in an orphanage and the orphanage placed her in a foster home where she was severely abused. All she ever wanted was a real family to love and accept her. By the time she finally got that family, her heart was too scarred and fearful to trust and believe that anyone could ever love her. Sadly for all of us, she lived and died a victim of the dire circumstances of her abusive past.
Many Christmas’s have come and gone since that warm, Christmas day when my mother shoved a cardboard box in my hands and said, “Here! I got you and your brothers a pair of ice skates.”
Christmas is like snowflakes; there are no two alike. But, somewhere along the way, we get the notion that every Christmas should be merry and bright and that all our expectations be fulfilled. Instead of feeling peace and joy, we feel guilt and shame for spending too much money or not enough, or that we let people down because we can’t meet their expectations, or that Christmas is completely ruined if families can’t all get together on Christmas day. And worst of all, we get so wrapped up in everything we think Christmas should be that we forget the reason we even celebrate.
Every year I have to remind myself that Christmas isn’t about me and my flimsy efforts to make it perfect for everyone. It’s not about presents under the tree and stockings hung by the chimney with care. It’s not about Santa Baby hurrying down the chimney with a bag full of trinkets. It’s about celebrating the birth of the Christ Child, God’s only Son who came down from Heaven to save the world from sin. It’s about His peace for the anxious, His hope for the hopeless; His healing for the wounded. It’s about families sticking together through thick and thin.
So, here it is, December 25, 2020. Our house is finally back in order after a long, harrowing DIY renovation, but we were too exhausted to decorate. We did, however, sprinkle a few decorations here and there adding a dab of Christmas cheer.
Because our family keeps growing we try to divide Christmas with one another fairly. Our immediate family planned to get together the day after Christmas. Then, COVID-19 changed all that when infecting several family members, so, we postponed getting together until that following Saturday.
And guess what? It couldn’t have been more perfect had we celebrated it on Christmas day. The food was just as good, the kids were just as happy, and the adults were just as exhausted by the time it was all over. And what made this Christmas even more special was having another addition to the family; two-month-old, Micahia Louis Staton, great-grandbaby number seven, and first redhead in four generations.
Yes, things change from year to year. People change. Circumstances change. But one thing that never changes is the endless gift of God’s love and mercy in every second of every passing year. Therein lies the magic of Christmas!
Before COVID-19, shopping and eating out used to be a fun thing. We didn’t have to rush around before the stores closed, or wonder how many empty shelves we would find once we got there. We weren’t afraid to cough or sneeze in public or even rub shoulders with our fellow humans.
Strange how swiftly things can change within a short period of time . . .
The once upon a time buzzing restaurant was a ghost town of empty tables spaced twenty miles apart and rows of empty, sad-looking booths. Even the music lacked its normal vim and vigor.
It was Friday, the day we set aside each week to spend with my husband’s uncle and aunt. We look forward to our time together and laughing at the darnedest things, like the jacked-up prices on the menu, the cold bowl of soup the waitress served, and coffee with a meaner kick than a raging bull. But the dirty plate the waitress put on the table? Not so funny.
The last time we ate there we had the privilege of drinking from real glasses and eating with real tableware, so I wasn’t expecting plastic cups, knives, and forks. Feeling slightly irritated, considering the cost of an arm and a leg to eat there, I was tempted to ask where the ants and checkered table cloth were.
But the thing that really got my blood boiling was walking into the restroom.
I cleaned toilets for a living, on my hands and knees, agonizing over every speck of dirt and grime in every nook and cranny, cleaning and scrubbing around the commodes and baseboards till every stinking germ was gone. Everyday. Five days a week. For fourteen long, agonizing years. I was the Queen of clean. When germs saw me coming, they dropped dead on the spot!
So, you can imagine my disgust when toilets in every stall hadn’t been flushed, one of which was totally clogged with who knows what. Toilet lids were splattered with pee, toilet bowls and baseboards were filthy black, and there was hardly any toilet paper anywhere. I’ve been in cleaner outhouses! But wait! There was a cleaning spray bottle hanging on the handicap door and a dirty cleaning rag laying on the nasty floor.
Feeling like I’d just waded through an underground sewer, I washed and dried my hands, hurried out the door, and headed straight toward the young masked man propped lazily against the desk. Not wanting to butt him too violently into the here and now, I pulled in my horns, and politely asked, “Did someone forget to clean the ladies room?”
With everyone so up in arms about COVID-19 and wearing masks for protection, you’d think restaurants would be more diligent about keeping their restrooms clean! It seems that, when the mask goes on, common sense gets smothered to death; like eating out for instance. No one can eat with a mask over their mouth, so what happens to the germs then? Are they frozen because you wore a mask to the table? Are they in suspended animation? Or do they just curl up and take a little nap somewhere?
In my little pea brain, this mask thing is as ludicrous as taking a bath in a cesspool. And the more I read and understand, the more I realize there is a whole lot more to this pandemic than meets the eye. It’s a political ploy to induce panic and fear in the American people and I refuse to play the game. I refuse to cave in to a government that no longer operates for the good of the American people. A government that has turned its back on God. A government that murders innocent lives, cheats, lies and steals for its own personal gain, and wallows in the lap of luxury at the expense of the American people. A government that protects criminals and punishes victims. A government that sits back and allows cities and homes and businesses to be vandalized and burned to the ground.
In all my 74 years, I never ever thought our nation could be brought down as low as it is today. I never imagined this mighty tower of freedom and justice disintegrating right before my eyes. I love my country and it rips my heart out seeing it ravaged by a greedy, power-hungry democracy gone mad. My only comfort is knowing that God is still in control and that one day, every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that He is God!
If God doesn’t intervene and the American people don’t soon wake up, America as we once knew her will be gone forever. No more freedom. No more justice. No place to run.
Using Paint Shop Pro 2019, I turn ordinary photos into works of art. I also create picture tubes, bookmarks, Facebook Covers, cards, tags, and more. I don't sell my art, therefore, all my creations are free for your own personal use.